It’s official. On Thursday, the Columbus Crew announced the signing of Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino to join the MLS Cup champions roster. This signing was first reported by Jeff Rueter and Sam Stejskal of The Athletic on Wednesday and confirmed to Massive Report.
With Molino, the club officially bolsters its attacking options further with the versatile Trinidadian. This comes after the addition of veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips, a striker who scored eight goals for LAFC as a reserve last year, earlier this offseason.
“Throughout his time in this league, Kevin Molino has been one of the most talented and explosive wingers in Major League Soccer, and he proved that not only throughout the 2020 regular season, but most recently when it mattered most, in the playoffs, on a team that was minutes away from an MLS Cup final,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko in the release.
“Kevin will bring individual game-changing ability, with his smart and technical play, which will aid in our team chemistry with our other top quality attackers. Kevin has also consistently produced goals and assists – a critical asset from the wide position. We know that this offseason, Kevin was rightfully so in high demand domestically and abroad, and we are excited that one of the top players in MLS has chosen Columbus and the Crew Soccer Club as a club of choice as a free agent. We look forward to the impact he will have, which we feel will be immense, as we compete for trophies in multiple competitions in 2021 and beyond.”
The 30-year old Molino is fresh off a productive season for Minnesota United in which he scored nine goals in 18 games. He also scored four goals in the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs for the Loons on the team’s run to the Western Conference Final where they fell 3-2 to the Seattle Sounders.
The veteran MLS attacker announced on Instagram on Dec. 16 that he would not rejoining Minnesota and become a free agent. After being offered a “max deal” by MNUFC to re-sign, he instead chose to sign with the MLS Cup champions in a deal with the Crew that will be similar and is the maximum allowed in free agency.
In his career, Molino has played at all three attacking midfield positions but often found himself on the left side of midfield in 2020. He will join a Crew attacking midfield led by the playmaker Lucas Zelarayan and wingers Pedro Santos, Luis Diaz and Derrick Etienne Jr.
Outside of his goal scoring production, Molino has dealt with ACL injuries on two occasions in his career. He was limited to seven games in 2015 after tearing his right ACL while with Orlando City and then tore his left ACL in 2018, limiting him to two appearances for Minnesota. He returned on both occasions the following seasons playing and producing goals for Orlando in 2016 and the Loons in 2019.
On the international level, Molino has been a staple on the Trinidad & Tobago national team for the past decade. He has scored 21 goals in 50 caps for T&T which puts him in the top 10 of all scorers in Soca Warriors soccer history. Molino is the seventh Trinidadian player in Columbus Crew history and obtained a Green Card in 2015 and does not take up an MLS international roster slot.
With today’s signing of Molino and yesterday’s re-signing of Waylon Francis, the roster now stands at 25 players for the defending MLS Cup champions with 13 countries represented.
The Crew’s current 2021 roster:
Goalkeepers (4): Evan Bush, Jon Kempin, Matt Lampson, Eloy Room
Defenders (9): Harrison Afful, Chris Cadden, Waylon Francis, Aboubacar Keita, Grant Lillard, Jonathan Mensah, Milton Valenzuela, Josh Williams, Vito Wormgoor
Midfielders (9): Artur, Sebastian Berhalter, Luis Diaz, Derrick Etienne Jr., Aidan Morris, Kevin Molino, Darlington Nagbe, Pedro Santos, Lucas Zelarayan
Forwards (3): Miguel Berry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Gyasi Zardes